Mark Cuban is a well-known investor, television personality, and fan of esports, but he isn’t interested in owning a team.
On the SportTechie podcast, Cuban spoke about technology in basketball, why analytics in sports are overrated, and why he has chosen not to invest in an esports team.
“I haven’t been a fan, not because they’re not a good business…the values of the teams are going up, popularity is transitioning more to the US…we’ve seen stadium sellouts,” Cuban began, “The reason I haven’t invested into a team is because of the human side of it.”
Cuban, who owns the NBA team Dallas Mavericks, is very familiar with esports and even made a special appearance at IEM San Jose in 2015 where he played Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a League of Legends ARAM showmatch. At the event, Cuban pleased the crowd when he declared “this is a real sport”. His decision not to invest into a team, unlike many other NBA owners and personalities, is not because he doesn’t believe in the direction of esports.
“Teams have to practice in season ten to twelve hours a day. Kids are stuck inside practicing all day every day,” he stated.
Cuban has held his stance on investing in esports teams for quite some time. Last October, Cuban told Fusion.net, “Right now, it’s a gold rush to buy and sell and build teams. That’s creating a confused market. But more importantly, I’m worried about how quickly players burnout. It’s a grind to keep up and to become great.”
He is right, burnout is a real thing in esports. Without a list of statistical data to look at, personal experience in the esports scene suggests that players retire from competition in their early 20’s. Few pros, if any, in any esport remain at the top level past the age of 30.
On the podcast, Cuban shared a personal anecdote about a conversation he had with a retired League of Legends pro. The player complained about League of Legends constantly changing, with new champions coming into the game, alterations to existing champions, and rule changes. The player said he retired from the esport at the age of 20.
While the constant grind is necessary for some games, Cuban believes other games, like NBA 2K, will not require endless gaming sessions for players to succeed.
“You can play reasonable hours and get reasonable returns,” Cuban commented about NBA 2K, due to the fact that the game is unlikely to experience drastic changes like League of Legends does.
With NBA 2K making headway into esports, perhaps Cuban’s stance on investing in a team will change.
At the time, Cuban said, “Hundreds of companies every year try to get me to invest, whether on Shark Tank or off camera. However, I only put my money and my name on the companies that I feel will be successful…The rapid growth of esports has created an entire new category of competition and I am proud to partner with Rahul Sood and his team to help bring esports to an even greater audience.”
Other personalities do not feel the same way as Cuban. Rick Fox, for example, founded esports team Echo Fox. Many others have followed suit, mainly investing in existing high-profile organizations.
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